Genes change in space — NASA twin study

Retired astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly

Retired astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly

The study found certain cognitive deficits during a battery of tests in orbit, which lingered when Scott Kelly later took tests back on Earth.

Scientists noted changes in the expression of Scott Kelly's genes while in space, with most - but not all - returning to normal after six months back on Earth.

"This is not the environment that the astronauts are going to be facing when they go to Mars", Feinberg said, noting that the International Space Station is close enough to Earth to shield it from deep space radiation.

NASA has more on humans in space.

The second major finding showed that the immune system responded normally during space flight.

Results of the landmark study featuring astronaut twins Mark and Scott Kelly revealed that the human body can survive long-duration space missions. Numerous findings are consistent with data collected in previous studies, and other research in progress.

While most of these changes were tiny and have no real impact on either of the twins overall health (at least not that we know now).

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NASA has finally released the findings of the Twins Study featuring astronaut brothers Mark and Scott Kelly.

Changes in the makeup of Scott's stomach bacteria in space were no greater than stress-related changes scientists observe on Earth. They could also help identify which preventative countermeasures might better protect astronauts' health. "But you can get some ideas of what some of the issues may be".

On a risk-taking cognitive assessment, Scott showed an increased tendency to take risks compared to his brother. "But I felt much worse coming back", he told The Post.

Researchers also found that his immune system acted basically the same way it would for you and me; a flu vaccine administered worked exactly as it would have on Earth.

The proteomics team studied fluid shifts in the body, the structure of the eye, and proteins in urine to see if changes in protein pathways in response to fluid shifts might contribute to some astronauts' vision problems. Of all the results described in the study, four, in particular, stood out to us.

"We need to get outside of low Earth orbit, and we need for the astronauts to spend longer periods of time to really evaluate some of these health effects".

Scott's ratio between these two phyla changed while he was in space, with the ratio of these two phyla increasing about five-fold relative to his baseline. However, the genes related to the immune system and DNA fix did not return to baseline after return. The human body, apparently, can withstand long-duration space missions. But the report shows anew that the human body is adapted for life on the surface of Earth and goes haywire in zero gravity. Basically, the genes the carrying out of instructions in a cell's genome had altered slightly and that these changes were still observable six months after his return.

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In one test, flu vaccination delivered a similar immune response in them. According to the space agency, Scott's white blood cell telomeres were surprisingly longer in space, but then were shorter after returning to Earth.

Telomeres typically shorten as someone becomes older and are associated with cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. She expected the stresses of space to shorten telomeres quicker.

Scott and Mark Kelly. In fact, there is a correlation between Scott's folate status and telomere dynamics.

"Scott's telomeres were longer during spaceflight than they were either before or after", Bailey said. "So, not a fountain of youth", Bailey says. In a comment of the biologist Markus Löbrich Technical University Darmstadt indicates that the radiation exposure during a Mars Mission is significantly higher than in the case of stays on the ISS. Some observed DNA damage is believed to be a result of radiation exposure.

MARTIN: I talked with Scott Kelly back in 2017, and I asked him about his health. Now, there's the things you can't feel.

Changes to the shape of Scott's eyeball, including a thicker retinal nerve, were among those detected, as well as a decline in some of his cognitive abilities.

In addition to this, the walls of Scott's carotid arteries thickened - a cardiovascular problem that's been observed before in astronauts returning from space. "Taking an off-the-shelf test geared toward the general population doesn't really work for astronauts because many of these tests aren't really hard enough for them", he says.

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A highly diverse gut microbiome is generally associated with good health. The team can't explain what's going on. "It's probably the most comprehensive study that has ever been performed on an astronaut", says Markus Löbrich, a professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt who wrote a commentary about today's paper. "But the findings give us clues to what we should examine more closely in future studies of astronauts". Illig agrees: "There's a ton of stuff happening on a very, very microscopic, molecular basis that we need to understand before we send humans out to colonize off planet".

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